Last year, Acer made a move with their main flagship consumer Chromebook – the Spin 713 – that just flat-out worked. The 2020 Spin 713 improved on many of the things we were looking for versus the version that came before it, kept the price in-check, and made for one of my absolute favorite Chromebook experiences of the year. When this year’s version arrived, I had high hopes for a similar iteration and knew that if Acer tightened up just a few things, they’d have another winner on their hands. As it turns out, Acer did just that: they kept much of what made last year’s Spin 713 great and simply iterated on an already-great formula to produce what has become my favorite Chromebook of 2021 so far. Let’s talk about why.
Improving build quality, great port selection
Last year, arguably the biggest gripe I had with the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 was the general build quality. While I felt it was a step forward from the earlier versions of the device, the whole package simply felt unfinished from an aesthetic point-of-view. The chassis was a bit flimsy, the lines where the outer portions came together were sometimes sharp and the whole thing lacked the tight feel you get in a Google-made Chromebook or in something like the excellently-made HP Chromebook c1030.
This year, I’m happy to say the build quality took a really nice step forward. The aluminum lid and bottom plate give the Spin 713 substance and the entire device feels far more considered and refined this time around. There’s a slight boxiness to the front edges and a firmness to the bottom half of the Chromebook that make for a more-premium feel when you pick up the Spin 713 from any angle, opened or closed. That solidity is further cemented by the 810G military-grade durability, which means this Chromebook doesn’t just feel solid: it can take a beating in some harsh conditions and sustain drops from up to 4 feet.
The hinge mechanisms are great, too, firm when in clamshell mode, easy to convert, and there’s even a satisfying magnetic hold that keeps the tablet orientation from feeling all floppy and messy. While still an understated design overall, Acer did a great job at making the Spin 713 simply feel like a nicer Chromebook than it did before, and that’s the point when you iterate from one year to the next.
There are still fan ports on the back and bottom of the device, but they don’t jump out at you and in daily use, you don’t really even see them. Joining those openings in this revised chassis are a wide variety of I/O ports including two USB Type C ports, a single USB A port, a microSD card slot, headphone/mic jack, and a return of the full-size HDMI port. As far as connections go, this thing has about everything you could ask for, even if the USB Type C ports are both on the same side – I prefer one on each side if I’m getting picky.
Still my favorite Chromebook screen
The real star of the show here is the screen. This is now the 3rd iteration of the Spin 713 with it’s 3:2, 13.5-inch high-res IPS display panel, and I’m here to tell you that this screen gets just about everything right. The taller viewport is always welcome, the 400+ nits of brightness performs in nearly every setting, the colors and viewing angles are vibrant and eye-pleasing, and the oddball 2256×1504 resolution provides a pin-sharp viewing experience. In case you can’t tell, I love this screen and using any other Chromebook after spending some time with the Spin 713 makes me sorely miss it. For my use, it is the perfect marriage of screen size, aspect ratio, and brightness. While this isn’t really an upgrade or iteration on last year’s model or even the one prior to that, no real work was needed in this department, so I applaud Acer for sticking with this display and deciding not to cut a corner here.
Improved input methods
Sitting beneath that gorgeous screen is a keyboard that feels quite similar to last year’s Spin 713 and a trackpad that is definitely improved. The keys on the keyboard are still a bit loose for my liking, but the travel is good and the click is sure. I had no issues getting up to speed with my normal typing. There’s also a backlight to help you find your way in dim conditions, and this is always a welcome addition. The trackpad is large, nearly square, and about as good as they come. It is glass, has a satisfying click, and gives you plenty of surface area to work with. No complaints, here.
One of my only real gripes with this Chromebook is in the speaker department, and I hate to report that things aren’t much better than they were last year. The speakers are not loud, have no mid or low-end reproduction to speak of, and are generally terrible. I’m not sure why Acer keeps shipping speakers this bad, but this is definitely no Pixelbook Go or ASUS CX5 when it comes to listening to any sort of audio on a Chromebook. Put simply, if laptop speakers matter to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere for sure.
An absolute powerhouse performer
Inside, we’re looking at an 11th-gen Intel Core i5, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of internal NVMe storage. If those specs sound impressive, just wait until you actually use them. It’s a sad understatement to say this Chromebook is fast. It literally is so fast that there wasn’t a single time my workload ever even started to slow it down. With plenty of RAM, miles of performance overhead, and far more storage than the average Chromebook, there’s no denying the beast mode status on offer, here. Even while pushing the internal high-res display and my ultra-wide QHD monitor (3440×1440), the Spin 713 never skipped a beat.
All that performance and resolution comes at a cost, however, as the battery is only average for a Chromebook. It’s not bad, just average. With the screen brightness cranked up and with lots of tasks running, you’ll see a 6-7 hour battery life. Kick the brightness down and pull back the reins on the multitasking and you can get in that advertised 10 hours Acer touts for this one. Don’t get me wrong, though: I’d take this screen and this muscle under the hood in exchange for a bit of battery life any day of the week. It’s been fine for me in actual use.
Yes, buy this Chromebook
So that’s the Acer Chromebook Spin 713 in 2021. It’s fast, it has all the internals you could want, all the I/O you could want, and what I consider the best screen available on a Chromebook right now. Aside from a bit of a boring aesthetic, average keyboard and battery life, and bad speakers, this Chromebook smashes it on so many levels. Putting together a review for a great device like this is easy. At $699, this Chromebook delivers what you expect in a high-end laptop at more mid-range prices. It’s so easy to recommend, and though it will likely be on sale at multiple points between now and the end of the year, even at MSRP, it is 100% worth the money. Acer’s done it again, and now it’s up to everyone else to catch up.